You’ve finished the shoot; it's time to deliver professional photos. How you present your work to the client matters as much as the quality of the work. They have been anticipating this moment and expect you to make it simple and enjoyable to browse the photos of their special day. It’s time to deliver their dreams.
Using online galleries makes providing high-resolution photos to your clients a breeze.
Why Online Galleries Are A Photographer’s Best Option
As a professional photographer, controlling the entire client experience is crucial to provide a seamless and consistent interaction at every touchpoint. This includes everything from visiting my website to their first contact with me, through the shoot and everything that follows. The same personal touch and attention to detail applies when it comes time to deliver professional photos.
Every interaction your client has with your work should resonate with the brand you are trying to build. Free platforms like Google Drive or DropBox will save you money, but they offer a generic presentation to your clients. An online gallery can present your brand the way you want it to look, with your logo, fonts, and color scheme.
Everyone wants to save time and avoid frustration. USB sticks have to be delivered and can get lost, and I highly recommend against emailing your photos. Not everyone has high-speed unlimited data, and attachment file sizes are limited. Unless your shoot was really small, you’ll have to send many emails, and no one wants that.
Online galleries are the easiest way to deliver professional photos in a user-friendly manner. It is simple for clients to order prints and share photos with their friends and family without the hassle of posting on social media. When they share your gallery, it could be seen by many people who may be inspired to order prints, putting extra money in your pocket for little effort.
What To Look For
Most galleries work in pretty much the same way. But they don’t all offer the same features and abilities, so you have to consider what is important to you and will work best with your workflow. Here are factors to consider when choosing an online gallery.
- Ease of use for clients. The first thing I consider is what the client can see and do. Is it easy for them to navigate, share, and place orders? Can they mark favorites, add to collections, and comment on photos? Once those conditions are satisfied, check the rest of the features that may be important to you.
- Branding. How will it look compared to your website? Do they provide enough options to represent your brand the way you want - can it match up logos, colors, icons, etc.? Pixieset has the option of replacing all of its branding with your own. Other galleries may only offer customized colors or logos. When you are just starting out, you may still need to nail your branding but bear in mind that if you have your branding on point when you set up your gallery, it will save you the hassle of setting it up twice.
- CRM capabilities. That’s “Customer Relationship Management,” and a reliable system will simplify your life. Some platforms allow you to manage bookings and use automated messages to communicate with clients. Some offer the ability to create customized invoices with easy in-app payment methods. If you already have a CRM system, this may be a minor feature, but it can be an added bonus if you are a beginner.
- Email login. I like galleries to require an email address to log in and view the photos. Why? Besides the level of security it offers the client, I now have the email addresses of people who are interested in the images - after all, the client passed the link to them - and can contact them with special offers to purchase prints. Plus, I can add them to my email list so when they need a photographer in future, I’ll be top of mind.
- Album flexibility. I like to present the same photos in different formats, for instance, in separate albums for vendors. This way, the florist or the caterer can see the pics they are interested in without slogging through thousands of images.
- Watermarking. Some photographers watermark their images to prevent unauthorized use or identify the work as theirs. However, some see watermarking as disruptive, and they are relatively easy to remove. Consider the pros and cons of watermarking, and if you’re into it make sure the online gallery you choose has the option.
- Ordering prints. Check out what labs they are connected with. Are they labs you have worked with or want to work with? Also, consider the download quality available, whether clients will get full-resolution photos or web-optimized images. Most gallery services allow a print release to be sent with the images, so when the client downloads them they can print them wherever they’d like. Decide which way you like to work and choose accordingly.
- Website hosting. Galleries that offer website hosting can be a great option especially for beginning photographers. Shootproof includes a Portfolio Website with every pricing plan so you can quickly get a professional photo website up and running. Using Narrative Publish to create SEO-friendly blog articles in minutes can help you feature your best images and get your site ranking higher in search results.
- Plug-ins. The efficiency of your workflow can be enhanced with plug-ins. For instance, Pic-Time offers a Lightroom plugin so you can directly export photos from Lightroom to the gallery, avoiding the hassle of downloading them to your computer and then uploading them.
- Insights. I value being able to track which pics are viewed and who’s looking, and get insight into sales, downloads, and overall revenue. Pixellu’s paid plans include Google Analytics if that interests you.
Switching galleries is a pain after thousands of photos have been uploaded. Besides moving images, you have to notify clients with new links. Thinking long-term is key to choosing the best option.
- Is this brand likely to be around in 5 or 10 years?
- Will all their pricing levels be good value for money as your business grows?
- Are they keeping pace with current technology or becoming stagnant?
- Can you archive albums so if a client contacts you years down the track, you can easily access it?
- How responsive is their customer service platform in case of glitches?
I tell my clients that their gallery will expire in one year. This way, I can retire their gallery and take up less storage space while giving them a deadline for ordering prints. Of course I keep a hard data backup and recommend that clients back them up in their own system, for instance Google Drive or Dropbox.
While there is never a guarantee that a platform will last, asking yourself these questions can highlight potential red flags to guide your decision-making and make life easier for future you.
Sealing the Experience: The Final Touch
Delivering professional photos is more than just a transfer of files. It's about offering an experience—a journey that reflects your brand and your professionalism. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Most galleries offer free trials, so take advantage of that to explore which online gallery is best for you.
By ensuring an optimal experience at every touchpoint, you will make a lasting impression on satisfied clients.